Kuster Hosts Democratic Women’s Caucus Roundtable to Address Sexual and Domestic Violence During COVID-19
**Yesterday, the House passed the Kuster-backed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act**
Washington, March 18, 2021
Tags: Ending Sexual Violence
**The full conversation is available HERE**
Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a roundtable discussion with Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) members to address sexual and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The roundtable was co-hosted by DWC co-chairs Lois Frankel (FL-21), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), and Jackie Speier (CA-14), as well as Bipartisan Working Group to End Domestic Violence co-chairs Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Gwen Moore (WI-04).
“It’s difficult to overstate the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on millions of domestic and interpersonal violence survivors who have been trapped at home with their abuser and don’t see a way out to get help,” said Rep. Kuster. “Assisting these survivors is truly a matter of life or death. Our frontline stakeholders who support and advocate for survivors have already done so much to meet the increased demands we’ve seen since COVID began. But they will need more resources to meet the need yet to come. The DWC has long been engaged in combatting domestic and sexual violence and is committed to meeting this crisis head-on. It’s especially appropriate that we are holding this roundtable in the midst of a monumental week in this effort to combat sexual and domestic violence.”
“Earlier this week, the House passed the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as well as the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act, both of which will deliver much-needed support for survivors,” Rep. Kuster continued. “Yesterday, we took the critical step of passing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This bill makes important updates and enhancements to VAWA, and could not be more timely as we address the needs of survivors during the pandemic.”
“Our response and support need to be broad because narrow restricts our ability to meet individuals’ needs and provide stable support,” said Deborah Mozden, Executive Director of Turning Points Network. “As this pandemic eases, we need resources that allow us to meet the different and unique circumstances that survivors have in finding safety and healing for themselves and their children, from emergency shelter, safe permanent housing, medical care, recovery services, financial independence services, criminal justice advocacy, to prevention programs. Thank you to the Democratic Women’s Caucus for convening a discussion on meeting the needs of survivors. We look forward to the Senate reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act to provide resources for some of these critical needs.”
Rep. Kuster, founder and co-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, is a leader in Congress in addressing sexual violence. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act passed by the House yesterday included Rep. Kuster’s bipartisan Improve Data on Sexual Violence Act, which would create an interagency working group to study the different terms used to describe acts of sexual violence across four government agencies and provide recommendations to Congress about how to harmonize them. Standardizing the language used in federal agencies will help to streamline and improve the response to sexual violence.
Earlier this month, Kuster led a letter to President Joe Biden urging his new administration to create a Special Advisor on Sexual Violence position within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Last month, Kuster re-introduced her bipartisan Child and Animal Abuse Detection and Reporting Act to improve the federal government’s child abuse data collection program by extending it to specifically evaluate animal abuse as a risk factor for child abuse. Last year, Kuster joined the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence to hold a virtual roundtable discussion on racial disparities in access to care and justice for survivors of sexual violence.